Using a Water Based Finish for the First Time

I wanted to try a water based finish for the maple top of my shop desk since I wanted the maple to retain it’s natural color.  After I apply the finish to the desk top, I show samples comparing the look of a water based finish to an oil based finish on various woods.

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General Finishes High Performance
General Finishes Arm-r-Seal:
Painter’s Pyramids:

My Finishing Process - Ask Matt #12
My Finishing Process – Ask Matt #12
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3 Responses

  1. I recently had the question on your Ask Matt Live where I had a 9 foot table getting coated with Arm-R-Seal. Attempting to do so with a rag as in your My Finishing Process the rag was getting tacky by the end of applying; I wasn’t able to really go back and make sure it was all smoothed out. After that I tried a foam brush as the can said was an option for larger projects. I had just run out of larger foam brushes like in the pack visible in this video, so went out and bought a single brush. A single brush however was only sold in a higher quality version. This was really fortuitous, as it showed me how much of a difference it made. Not only was aI able to apply it to the whole surface, but it was much nicer to apply than previous foam brush finishing I’ve tried.

    The next time you try the water based poly, try going with a better brush, I bet you’ll notice a big difference too. As always, thanks for giving us videos to watch!

  2. Matt,

    Nice trial and error piece. I’m a fan of shellac as a quick filler for more porous woods, and I go for unwaxed as it is less amber in tone. I like a foam brush for laying on the finish, vs. putting on an initial finish. I’m more “old school, LOL!”

    I’ve got an HVLP spray kit I’ve yet to use but it would seem the waterbourne finishes might be an advantage there?

    Thanks for taking us on your learning journey.

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